Tim Wakefield has passed away from brain cancer at 57 (10/1 update)

bakahump

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 8, 2001
7,545
Maine
I could go back and get the facts but I will always remember it as is getting trounced, about to burn through our bullpen and competent relievers and Tim said give me the damn ball just days after making his start. Guy gutted and grimaced through 4-5 innings saving the bp and in my romantic memory the season as we went on to beat the yanks and eventually win the series and championship. Wake to me even at the time Was the hero of the alcs. Ortiz manny Damon all great but wake epitomized for me what a team should be and what a teammate should do. That he went on to continue being one of best community outreach guys this team has ever seen is just more evidence that some people are true heroes.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 26, 2006
14,274
I never went to more than 10 or so games a year, but I had a run in 97/98 or so where I saw him start like 5 out of 6 games at Fenway and he was such a box of chocolates. Sometimes, lights out. Sometimes BP. You never knew what you were going to get. But he’s get locked in sometimes and just make professional hitters look silly. Entertaining as hell.

This is very much not fair. A pillar of the organization lost way too soon.
 

Dan Murfman

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 21, 2001
4,210
Pawcatuck
This is so sad. I loved watching him pitch. And never wanted him to retire. Once he retired I was older than every MLB player.
 

mr_smith02

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2003
4,356
Upstate NY
Tim Wakefield was a very good thing in a world that can be very dark sometimes. He was everything a fan could want from a player who dons a Boston Red Sox uniform, on the field and off. A truly good soul. My god cancer is heartless.
 

YTF

Member
SoSH Member
I was just thinking about those ridiculously big air vents behind home plate in Minnesota's Metro Dome and the conspiracy theories about how the Twin's (and other domed teams) would screw around with the air flow to try to mess up Wake's knuckler.
 

TapeAndPosts

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2006
580
Do we know when they removed the artificial turf at Three Rivers? My google fu skills can’t figure that out
I wondered about this, too. Wikipedia says Three Rivers had artificial turf the whole time it existed, "Tartan Turf" 1970-1982 and then AstroTurn from 1983-2000, after which it closed. So it would have had turf the two years Wakefield pitched there. The cluster of brain cancer deaths in baseball players, most also in their late 50s, is extremely eerie.
 

Lose Remerswaal

Experiencing Furry Panic
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
I wondered about this, too. Wikipedia says Three Rivers had artificial turf the whole time it existed, "Tartan Turf" 1970-1982 and then AstroTurn from 1983-2000, after which it closed. So it would have had turf the two years Wakefield pitched there. The cluster of brain cancer deaths in baseball players, most also in their late 50s, is extremely eerie.
Thanks for confirming. I thought lack of a comment to the contrary that this might be the case. I wonder if there will be a lawsuit with all the Phillies and Royals and now Tim suffering from brain cancer after playing or managing on the surface.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,671
Somers, CT
Nothing of value to contribute, other than sharing the pain with the people who understand. Devastated for Tim, his family, and the Red Sox family. Absolutely brutal.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
20,839
Maine
This sucks. Was really hoping things hadn't progressed so far so fast. I agree with everyone who's said they need to put 49 on the facade. It's a shame it has to be post-humously but who could have known he'd be gone so soon? There should have been more time, damn it.
 

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
24,213
Miami (oh, Miami!)
Chaos Theory and the Knuckleballer
for Tim Wakefield

On the mound you stand –just so– exhale –so–
throw at the same spot over and over.
There's only one way to toss a knuckleball,
near-impossibly simple; your fingernails flick it
at the distant lozenge of your catcher's mitt,
and it must be thrown so evenly
the ball won't spin at all,
60 feet six inches from hand to plate,
it can't rotate, not once.

At its end, it turns a half inch
so when the slight braking surface
of its raised stitched-seam
shears against the stream of air
the ball ploughs through,
that change in flow will kick it aside
–not much– enough
for a bat to swipe over, under,
just to the left of where the ball was.
Or not.

Somedays, it's like trying to throw an oak leaf
across the street into your neighbor's half-closed mailbox.
Somedays it's good: you're on;
just that the ball perversely dips and skews
straight to the bat – right out of the park.
Or the ball won't break, just hangs
like a bright piñata. Somedays it's perfect.

You can't hold runners for a damn,
floating that ball towards home like a soap bubble
but most will wait anyway,
for the ball to lunge under the bat into the dirt,
carom off the catcher's shin-guard, and roll
–like an evil bunt– into the on-deck circle.
Anything too good by a hair,
or not good enough, kills you.

After a shutout (or single inning debacle)
reporters want to know WhyWhat happened?
As the press corps questions swirl around you
and the baseball that nestles like a Buddha in your glove,
you sense a slight breeze, an eddy so weak
it can barely sift through heat rising off the dirt.
A drop of sweat left on the ball? A stray mosquito?
The fat guy in the forth row who blew on his coffee?
Who knows? Who knows how this pitch makes itself?

They say, to Jehovah, men were tools:
Samuel a sword, Isaiah a trumpet.
What are you to a knuckleball
that pulls the world into itself?
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
18,146
RIP #49. Honestly cannot add anything more the sentiments well expressed upthread. Loved watching him pitch, and will always remember the look of the 2156 batters walking back to the dugout totally befuddled by a pitch they all thought they could send to the seats.
 

FortyFive

is good people
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jun 2, 2005
1,033
In Bill We Trust
This is so sad. And the last thing he should have had to deal with in the days before he passed away is worrying that his former teammate made his family's health issues public knowledge. I loved watching him pitch. When the knuckleball was working, it was a wondrous thing. When it was not, it was going to be a short game for him. The man was the consummate professional, teammate, and philanthropist. I will never forget his contributions in 2004, and how he put the good of the team before his own desire to play in the 2007 WS. Sending prayers for his wife in her battle (that we have no business knowing about) and condolences to his entire family. Gone way too soon (and hope someone starts looking more into the brain cancer cluster in baseball players with artificial turf chemicals being cancer causing).
 

BornToRun

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 4, 2011
17,439
I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been better said already. Truly a Red Sox icon and by all accounts an incredible human being. Rest in peace, Wake, and I’m in full agreement that 49 needs to be retired.
 

GruberTaggedHim

New Member
Oct 5, 2021
106
Jesus. One of my favorite pitchers that I ever watched and also a great human being. Prayers for his wife and her battle, and to the rest of his family.
 

Norm loves Vera

Joe wants Trump to burn
SoSH Member
Dec 25, 2003
5,418
Peace Dale, RI
Wow, God smacked. My last week in the Army was spent watching him dominate the Braves in the NLCS, I want to say on a couple days rest for the Pirates. The Pirates didn't win, but I loved his moxie. I was so elated he ended up with the Red Sox.

One of the mantras you hear in the military is service before self, and Tim (and his wife) epitimized that expression on every level. RIP Tim.
 

SumnerH

Malt Liquor Picker
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
31,977
Alexandria, VA
One of my all-time favorites. He could be frustrating to watch when the knuckler wasn't dancing, but when he was on it was just joyous absurdity—especially when he let loose an occasional 72 MPH “fastball” that some major leaguer flailed at hopelessly. I wrote this to some friends earlier today, I'll copy it here:

A sad farewell to Tim Wakefield, one of my favorite players ever. Wakefield passed away at age 57 from a seizure as a complication of recently diagnosed brain cancer.

The Red Sox had a lot of all-time great pitchers: Cy Young, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Smokey Joe Wood, Luis Tiant, Roger Clemens....but nobody threw more innings for them than Tim Wakefield. #49 was 3rd all time in wins for the Red Sox, 2nd all time in Ks, and first all time in nominations for the Roberto Clemente Award for charitable work.

Wake worked with the Franciscan Children's Hospital, New England's Pitching in for Kids, Space Coast Early Intervention Center, and Garth Brooks' dubiously named but well-intentioned Touch 'em All Foundation, among many other charitable causes. Since 2013, he served as honorary Chairman of the Red Sox Foundation.

His giving personality and deeds earned him the respect and admiration of his rivals. In 2004 after the Sox came back from down 0-3 to beat the Yankees, Yankees' manager Joe Torre picked up the phone to call the Red Sox' locker room. He asked to speak to Wakefield.

“It was probably one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. For him to call me during our celebration and wish me luck, to wish us luck and say he'd be rooting for us, it was very special,” Wakefield recounted.

Wakefield had volunteered to give up his start earlier in the series to come on in relief in a blowout, sacrificing his stats in order to keep the team (barely) alive and capable of piecing together enough innings to manage the comeback.

After a failed start to his career as a first baseman, Wakefield switched to pitching and mastered the knuckleball. Armed with nothing but a 68-mph pitch that any good high school pitcher could out-throw and a fox's cunning, he put up 19 years of Major League performance.

His 200 wins is 6th all-time among knucklers, and is twice as many as any other knuckleballer to play in this millenium (exactly twice: R.A. Dickey managed 100 wins).

His 17 seasons with the Red Sox were the most by any pitcher, and fourth among all players behind Yaz, Dewey, and Ted.

RIP, you legend.
 

Dewey Eyed Dreamer

New Member
Jul 27, 2021
112
It sounded to me as if he had glioblastoma which is one of the most quickly progressing and aggressive human cancers. Basically untreatable. Five year survival rate is very, very low.

Ill never forget the 1995 season. Clemens was hurt and the Sox were in dire need of an ace. All of a sudden this Tim Wakefield guy comes out of nowhere and is dominant for almost the entire summer with his knuckleball. What an incredible season. I loved watching him pitch. I was at the game in Fenway where he carried a shutout into 10th inning, surrendered a run, and in the bottom of the 10th Troy O Leary walked it off to give him the win. From that season on Tim was perhaps my favorite player. Seemed like a great guy and loyal to the Sox and the fanbase. How incredibly rare is that these days?
 

GPO Man

New Member
Apr 1, 2023
571
I haven’t been this saddened by a non-family or friend death in a while. Tim was a special man and grew up just south of me in Brevard Co, FL.